Welcome to Uinta National Forest
This trip was part of a roadtrip from Philadelphia PA to Portland OR, with major stops throughout Utah. We left Canyonlands early(ish) and ventured north to Uinta Nation Forest - the home of 5th Water Hot Springs. Upon reaching the park we were greeted by dark skys, light rain, and cold gusts. After a dissappointing pow-wow, we decided it was too dark and wet to make the 7.2 mile hike and soak in the springs. We continued North to Salt Lake City and grabbed a cheap hotel.
The next morning we made the unanimous decision to backtrack to 5th Water and try again, even though we were on a timeline to get to Portland. I couldn't have been more stoked for the whole crew to step up and try again. This time we were greeted by blue skys, a fresh dusting of snow, and fresh mountain air.
Shit, where is the trailhead!?
I had the trailhead that I found via Google Maps cued up on my phone, and we still had about 15 more miles of winding hills to drive before we would reach it. Approaching the trailhead, we reached our first unpaved and precarious looking road made of gravel, mud, and snow. The Scion XB was no match for these conditions, so we began to suit up and start hiking.
As we did, a pickup truck was coming up the road we were about to start hiking, so I flagged him down to see if I could get any tips. Sure enough, he was attempting to reach the springs as well, but he found nothing, had given up, and was headed home.
"Shit, where is the trailhead!?" We had overcome so much already, and now we didnt't know where the trailhead was. The Google maps pin had taken us to the wrong place. We regrouped and studied the map. We needed to continue a few more miles down the road we were already on, to a small parking lot with a small wooded sign confirming the trail.
Don't go tot the Google Maps pin for the 5th Water Hot Springs. The real trailhead is several miles down the road. See the map above for the route we took. There is another trailhead hike-in from the West (Diamond something), but we cam from east and parked in an established lot.
5th Water Hot Springs: 40.085369°, -111.338660°
The hike in was unreal. The orange leaves, blue sky, green pines, fresh snow, trickling water, and steep vallies were some of the features that guided our way to the springs. Our hike-in was as amazing as the springs themselves.
When we were finally close to the springs, you knew it - you could smell the sulfur, and soon we spotted our first crystal clear pool of steaming water. Adam and Justin quickly disrobed and were the first to dip there toes in the hot water. It was hot, like too hot, scorching hot! I did not see that coming. Did we come all this way just to find out that we couldn't take the heat!?
I quickly scouted downstream, testing the temperature of the other pools. Slowly the water transformed from crystal clear to a milky emerald color, AND a much more inviting temperature. The pools just kept going, and going - flowing through a maze of warm rocks and waterfalls. Our plans to stay for an hour quickly turned into 3 or 4 before sunset reminded us to hike back to the car.
Wit headlamps guiding the way, we hiked the snowy path during twilight, and made our way back to the car. Next stop, and long drive to Portland, OR for some city life and then a search for ice caves on Mt. Hood.
Note: It is frowned upon (or simply against the law) to drink alcohol at some of these place, especially out of glass. Always act responsibly, leave no trace, and respect the spot.